As a parent, I have been embroiled in AAU basketball for over 10 years. Even with all the grimier parts of AAU, I absolutely love it. As a former player and coach, who loves teaching the game of basketball, I can say the game is thriving. Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Las Vegas Main Event with my sons team from Emerald City Basketball Academy (ECBA). I didn't go with any expectations, other than watching my son do work. Our tallest player pulled out of the tourney 3 weeks prior and I knew that was going to hurt, but I also knew a core of these boys had played together for years and could be dangerous. After it was all said and done I am very proud of what this team accomplished and so proud of my son for representing himself.
This tourney was filled with elite players. These weren't the top players in the country, but they are some of the best. At this point (16U) a lot of kids are dunking and the skills are at a high level. As I mentioned we lost one of our better players, who happened to be 6'6". So we were definitely going short handed. This team didn't let that be a setback and came out ready to go. The first game started a little slow, but we were able to pull away in the second half.
The second game we played a team from Utah with only 5 players. We only had 8 so it wasn't too much of an advantage, but we still had more fire power. That being said these kids from UT ran and shot the whole game. I should have known because they looked just like the cross country team. It was tied 37-37 at half and we pulled away in the second half. Now we are 2-0.
The third game we got a team of players from Dallas that were coached by an ex-Washington Husky. Very fearless bunch. This game we started fast and got up early. Our boys represented Seattle well. The team from Dallas eventually made a comeback and took the lead with under 10 minutes to go in the second half. However, we played that game very smart and were able to win going away.
At this point we have won our pool and have qualified for the Platinum A tournament. Pretty good for a team that nobody may have picked to get there. The next day we would play Eastern Washington Elite. Exciting stuff.
We get to the gym and to our pleasant surprise our opponents had a 6'9" center. Our biggest players are about 6'2". But that didn't stop us. We got up 10 early, but they eventually came back. The game was called really close and our top players got into foul trouble. It was very frustrating, but that's part of this game. Reffing is hard and these are not professional refs. Eventually our 3 tallest players, who are also top scorers were fouled out with 5 minutes to go. Even, so the last 5 players fought to the end and we had a chance to win or tie on the last shot. We shot a great shot and it just didn't go in. But remember what we said. Players with fight don't lose games, they just run out of time. I didn't make this up. John Wooden and Vince Lombardi opened my eyes to it.
Here's the final tourney bracket.
We had a real chance and it was a pleasant surprise. The FOH Seattle team is really big and skilled. I would have bet they would have won it, if you would have asked me. That being said, I think our team did pretty good. Good job ECBA representing yourselves and Seattle basketball. I bet you they say "those boys fight hard" and "those parents are loud"...
AAU basketball is a different beast. It's a lot of "Me First" basketball, because kids are trying to get recruited. AAU teams need to win to be invited to more prestigious tournaments and make a name for their organization. Unless your kid is a star it's hard to find someone that cares. I am proud to say my family has navigated these waters with our daughter and son. We've won and we've lost. It comes with the territory. But this trip my guy went and got it. He averaged exactly 20.0 points in 4 games (16, 21, 29 and 14). He did it all. His mom, would love for him to have had more rebounds early (LOL). Luckily grandpa reminded Mom that her son does so much work, you don't need to worry about rebounds. But you can see in the last game he put in work on the boards. Obviously inspired by mom.
Here are a couple of stat sheets from 2 of the games. He contributed in every game and the future is so bright.
Our AAU season is now over. My guy has some shooting training that will go on, but will get some time off. His Junior season is coming up and we will start training again in mid-August. We are really looking forward to the upcoming high school season. I can't see the future, but I do know one thing. We will be prepared to FIGHT!!!